Greek and Hellenic Culture in Joyce

Synopsis

Classical allusion in James Joyce's work is staggering -- despite the fact that he knew no ancient Greek and had only a minimal grasp of its modern form. This book by R. J. Schork comprehensively examines the essential contributions of Greek language, literature, history, and mythology to the structure and comic aspects of Joyce's fiction.

Like Schork's earlier companion book (the study of Roman culture and Joyce), this work contains the same attention to philological detail, literary nuance, and cross-referencing of sources. And again, the overriding critical emphasis is on the culture and language of ancient Hellas as an essential component of Joyce's genius.

Schork's double expertise -- classical and Joycean -- reveals new dimensions in the allusive archaeology of the texts, especially in the puzzling verbal strata of Finnegans Wake. Throughout, Schork keeps his focus on Joyce, writing in an uncomplicated, lively style, translating everything, giving the entire context of the allusions, taking nothing for granted in terms of classical background. And, finally, concluding that Joyce's manipulation of the classics in general and Greek in particular was primarily for comic and/or scatological purposes.